Group asks Comelec to declare La Union as ‘area of concern’

A non-government organization formed by peace-loving people of Ilocos region urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to include La Union province in the list of areas of concern to ensure the conduct of peaceful elections in May 2022.
Crusaders for Peace asked Comelec and the PNP to deploy more security personnel in La Union province in the run-up to the May 9 national and local elections given the history of political violence and recent reports of armed men spotted in the province.
“We ask Comelec and the PNP to declare La Union among the areas of concern to prevent further loss of lives, violence and intimidation during the election and campaign period,” Crusaders for Peace said in a statement.
Comelec adopted a list of color-coded areas of concern, in place of the previously tagged election hotspots, based on the recommendation of the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Comelec has yet to release the list.
An area will be tagged green if it has no security concern; yellow for area of concern; orange for area of immediate concern; and red for area of grave concern. Areas of concern will be placed under Comelec control, with the support of the PNP and AFP.
The PNP earlier submitted a list of around 100 municipalities and 14 cities to be placed under the red category for the May 9 elections. The list was not yet discosed.
Crusaders for Peace said placing La Union under Comelec control will avert political violence that gripped the province in 2018. Most of the 2018 political killings remain unresolved to this day, the group said.
The group said authorities have yet to arrest the perpetrators of the 2018 slaying of former Second District Rep. Franny Eriguel on May 12. Eriguel and his two companions were attacked by armed assailants on the eve of May 12, 2018 during a political rally for village officers in Barangay Capas in Agoo town. Eriguel sustained eight gunshot wounds on his head, chest, arm and leg.
Eriguel’s death started a string of high-profile killings in the province, with Sudipen Mayor Alexander Buquing being killed along with his security escort in October, and Balaoan Vice Mayor Alfred Concepcion in November. Concepcion’s daughter, Mayor Aleli Concepcion, was also wounded in the same incident.
“To avoid more violence as the election approaches, we hope that government security forces will be deployed in La Union to protect lives and ensure the conduct of peaceful elections,” Crusaders for Peace said.
Last year, La Union police also uncovered a plot to assassinate Rep. Sandra Eriguel, widow of Rep. Franny Eriguel, following the arrest of several members of an assassination squad.
The averted plot allegedly involved assassinating an incumbent member of the House of Representatives and two town mayors ahead of the 2022 elections.
Crusaders for Peace also called the attention of Comelec to recent reports that a mayoralty candidate in Agoo town was accused of mauling a campaign supporter of a rival faction.
Moises Ordona, a 54-year-old campaigner and supporter of La Union Second District Rep. Eriguel in San Vicente, Agoo, filed a complaint before the Department of Justice’s Office of the Provincial Prosecutor against mayoralty candidate Frank O. Sibuma for alleged grave threats, grave coercion and physical injuries. In his complaint, Ordona said he suffered multiple injuries, including rib fracture, secondary to mauling at the hands of Sibuma.
Sibuma of People’s Reform Party is running against incumbent Agoo mayor Stefanie Ann Y. Eriguel, daughter of Rep. Sandra Eriguel and the late Rep. Eufranio Eriguel.
“These incidents should serve as a wake-up call for the Comelec and the PNP to increase their monitoring and protection of La Union province which is traditionally a hot spot of political violence during elections,” Crusaders for Peace said.

Amianan Balita Ngayon